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ACFD Reminder: Cook Safely on Thanksgiving

Arlington County Fire Department BadgeThe Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents to be cautious while cooking up a holiday feast this week, considering Thanksgiving is the busiest day for home cooking fires.

ACFD encourages cooks to stay alert while in the kitchen because the leading cause of cooking fires is leaving equipment unattended. The department also discourages the use of outdoor gas fueled turkey fryers due to fire and burn hazards when hot oil splashes during the cooking process.

The department recommends adhering to the following safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking and turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time. Check on food regularly to make sure it is not burning.
  • Use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Stay alert. You won’t be alert if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep all flammable items — such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

There are also safety tips specifically for using turkey fryers:

  • Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over and cause a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire grows too large, immediately call the fire department for help.

Follow these tips if a fire does break out:

  • When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 after you leave.
  • If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
  • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

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